Greece is the word

In 2000 I was commissioned to write my first guidebook update for Lonely Planet. Yes, that’s (ahem) 15 years ago.

I undertook my initial guidebook-writing stint while I was still working as a full-time editor for Lonely Planet, after I was accepted as a potential author (after submitting a writing sample and jumping through the hoops all wannabe LP authors had to jump through). My first assignment: the Greek islands. Yeah! Who could turn that down?

I remember the trip being a mad dash through approximately 20 islands in something like six weeks. It was crazy but it was glorious: blue skies, undecipherable ferry timetables, dazzling white villages and the beginning of a love affair with chargrilled octopus. I ranged all over the Aegean Sea, from Mykonos to Crete to Lesvos and Skopelos. I remember joining a lovely local family on Santorini for their Greek Easter feast; swooning over the unique architecture in Symi, Chios and Hania; walking through a stunning gorge in Crete; and drinking too much retsina on a dolphin-spotting cruise out of Alonnisos. I fondly recall the warmth of the Greeks, who all seemed to have a brother/cousin/uncle living in Melbourne.

I came home from the trip and quit my desk job soon after, deciding that the freedom of freelancing and the lure of travel-writing were far too irresistible. In the years following that first gig, I returned to Greece a few more times to research more comprehensive guidebooks (at a considerably calmer pace).

Fifteen years on, that first Greece trip has provided me with a nice dose of nostalgia as I prepare for another Greek odyssey: I leave soon for a research assignment to the Cyclades group – this includes headliner islands like Mykonos and Santorini, but also some wee specks on the map I can’t wait to investigate. There’ll be 24 islands over two months, with lots of ferry-hopping and octopus-eating. There will no doubt be an abundance of whitewashed villages, cobbled laneways filled with bougainvillea, hotel infinity pools, and crystal-clear waters lapping glorious sandy beaches. I can’t wait.



One thought on “Greece is the word

  1. Tony Gordon

    Impressed by your work on the most recent Lonely Planet – Greek Islands.
    We have spent the last nearly 50 years regularly island hopping all over the islands and in order to test the latest edition we checked in to pages on some of our islands to see how up to date and evocative they were – checking out your choice of eating and sleeping options. Impressed by your selection of Pounta in Folegandros, Helios Studios and then Klima in Milos, comments on Sikinos and Amorgos chora, on delicious Naxos etc etc. These yardsticks meant we could adventure with confidence, so to speak, on to the pages of islands we have never managed -to visit, Serifos always eluded us somehow Ios was only an overnight stop. We shall study the new edition with great pleasure as we have interest in Kea, Fourni, Megisti and the Sporades. We try hard but some islands always evade us.
    We love Limnos which is still a bit of a secret and Votsalakia a haven of non tourism on the edge of Samos, Milos and Sifnos are favourites but Naxos Town remains a delight 45 years after we first visited. Folegandros chora has become a favourite as has Sikinos port with its crazy permanent beach seats. Paros has like Santorini becoem a bit of a no go because a lot of what we loved has been shrouded in a cloud of tourism and footfall. We long for the original Amorgos Chora where we sepent time in an intimate small group of different nationalities but still advertise it to others despite the fact it is not quite what it was.
    Power to your elbow and any personal recommendations would probably be appreciated as we plan our next trip in June for a month. We start out with Giorgios and Trixie in Adamas (Villa Helios) but after that we are open to suggestions.

    Very best wishes

    Tony Gordon and Christine Bola

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